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BBC bosses have re-advertised the political editor post after they were unhappy with the choice of candidates to replace Laura Kuenssberg in one of the most influential roles in British journalism.

After weeks of interviews and an extensive recruitment process, the company had produced an all-female shortlist for the role, with ITV News’ Anushka Asthana and Sky News’ Sophy Ridge considered the final two candidates. The announcement over which of them would get the job was expected to coincide with Kuenssberg’s departure last week.

Instead, BBC political correspondent Chris Mason is now the favorite to land the role after bosses quietly started inviting new applications for the job. The recruitment page for the post of political editor has reopened until Tuesday, although there has been no acknowledgment of this from senior staff or an official announcement from the BBC encouraging new applications.

Mason is highly regarded across the BBC, but a media industry official has pointed out that the BBC may be on the verge of rejecting “an all-female shortlist of brilliant women” in favor of a man.

The reopening of applications will allow Mason to send his CV – but will also allow anyone else to apply and is a public sign that executives are not content with the existing range of candidates. In recent days there had been speculation that BBC executives were unhappy with the process and were looking for other candidates for the job.

Mason did not originally apply for the position, in part because it was considered a role for a more experienced reporter such as Jon Sopel. However, according to people with knowledge of the recruitment process, in recent days BBC bosses have encouraged Mason to apply for the job, a development first reported by The Sunday Times.

Mason has worked at the BBC for two decades, spending most of his career covering Westminster and becoming a frequent presence on TV and radio newscasts. The 41-year-old from Grassington in North Yorkshire hosts the Friday night show Any Questions? and was a regular on the Brexitcast podcast. His current salary is below the £150,000 threshold which must be publicly declared.

Paving the way for him to become a political editor would allow the BBC to retain a top journalist who has been repeatedly approached by other commercial broadcasters such as Times Radio with job offers. However, he still hasn’t been interviewed, so any appointments could be cut short – while leaving existing candidates with the decision to drop out of the recruitment process if they think the job has been reserved for someone. another.

Other candidates who applied for the job included the BBC’s Alex Forsyth and the Daily Mirror’s Pippa Crerar. Those linked to the role at an early stage included Newsnight’s Lewis Goodall and ITV’s Paul Brand.

The appointment will help shape the newsroom under new BBC news director Deborah Turness, who has promised to shake up the operation but has still been unable to confirm a departure from her current role as Managing Director of ITN.

The BBC newsroom fears the national broadcaster has been left behind by ITV when it comes to telling Westminster stories about the Christmas parties that broke the Downing Street lockdown. While ITV News published story after story, the BBC found itself playing catch-up and relying on leaked footage obtained by its main commercial rival. Further BBC production cuts are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Anyone who becomes a BBC political editor will immediately become one of the most influential and watched journalists in the country. Kuenssberg’s time in the job has led to an unprecedented level of discussion about what the role of a BBC political editor should be. A key debate is how much the job holder should try to publish new news – or whether they should focus on hindsight and provide analysis that concludes with confidence that tells the truth.

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